When a court ruled on Friday that Globalive, the company behind Wind Mobile, was not in compliance with Canadian foreign ownership restrictions, you may have been upset by the ruling. Maybe you thought it killed competition. Maybe you thought it just upheld the oligarchy that controls telecommunications in Canada. Maybe you thought the law was stupid.
I thought all of those things. That said, I also saw that the court was in the right in making its decisions; the law was interpreted as written. But I certainly wasn’t thrilled about it.
However, one group is thrilled about it: the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP). The CEP, along with ACTRA (the union representing Canada’s theatrical and motion picture performers) and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (a citizens’ group that supports public broadcasting in Canada) called the court’s decision “a victory for culture, a victory for Canadian ownership.”
“The federal court has said that cabinet is not above the law,” said CEP President Dave Coles, in a press release. “If Stephen Harper and his cabinet want to change the Telecommunication Act, they have to have the guts to go before Parliament.”
“Overturning the cabinet decision is a victory for Canadian ownership rules and a victory for Canadian culture,” added Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s national executive director. “Globalive was potentially the beginning of the end of our foreign ownership laws; we're ecstatic that the courts have stopped the train in its tracks.”
Billing themselves as a “cultural coalition,” CEP, ACTRA and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting intervened on the same side as Telus and Public Mobile in opposing the government’s decision. They said that their concerns weren’t for Telus’ profitability, but for what the entrance of a foreign telecom company would mean for Canada, particularly in an age where telecoms were merging frequently with content producers — Shaw with CanWest, and Bell with CTVglobemedia.
The coalition has a point; the thought of a foreign-owned company in control of the media this country produces isn’t particularly appetizing. And if trends hold up, Globalive is going to want to follow the lead of Shaw and Bell and become more than just a content distributer, but also a content producer.
Another thought that isn’t appetizing? Having only three telecom companies serving one of the largest, most prosperous countries on the planet. Our telecom picture is a joke in this country, and we need more competition. Stat.
Okay, how about a compromise? "The Liam Britten 100% Satisfying to Both Consumers and People Who Care About the Arts" goes as follows:
- Content distributers owning the content producers is a huge conflict of interst, no matter what country they’re from. No more of this nonsense.
- It sucks paying a cell phone bill that’s inflated by virtue of an old boys’ club in telecommunications. Let Globalive provide more competition.
How about that? Sound fair?